Tuesday, March 17, 2015


Ahobilam had been in our wish list for long and for some reasons we never got around make the pilgrimage. My inlaws were keen on visiting it too and our schedules needed to match for us to make the trip. Eventually we did, when we had a long weekend in the first week of Mar 2015. 

Before I get into details of the trip let me tell you that this pilgrimage was like none other. The temples by themselves are small (miniscule), but what sets this yatra apart is that one goes through a complete range of emotions  during the trek. From worldly worries to ecstasy, from ecstasy to silence from a silent mind to unexplained joy. I would urge you to take time off by yourself and sit by the various mountain streams.

I could not find a recent update from helpful bloggers on Ahobilam and was trying to figure out which of the 3 routes to take from Bangalore. We set off at about 16.00 hrs from Bangalore and decided to take the Bangalore – Kadri- Pulivanthala – Ahobilam route. The road  was passable with bad stretches when crossing villages. However, on our return we decided to take the

                                                Ahobilam – Kadappa – Rayachotty – Chinthamani- Bangalore.

In hindsight, this was a good decision as the road was very good and we could reach Bangalore without a hitch.

I had booked my stay in “Ahobilam Malolan Tours and Religious Services Ltd”(AMTRS).  The A/c rooms were clean and functional and the food was home cooked. The rates included the services of a guide (Very much required) and also a jeep to visit 2 temples in the middle of a forest after a grueling 20 km drive. This is run by an enterprising lady, Mrs.Komala who has built the rooms for stay as an extension of her house.This was probably one of the best decisions I had taken, as once the stay and food were taken care of, a major part of the planning is done.

We had reached late night but were up early and left by car with packed breakfast and the guide in tow for the temples in Upper Ahobilam which has 4 of the 9 temples.

Since my father-in- law is 80 and MIL is 75, we had organized dolis for them @ Rs 2000/ each.

You reach the Ahobila Narasimha temple at the base after a short drive of 8 kms. Our trek  starts from here to the other 3 temples. From Ahobila temple, going to Jwala Narashima involved climbing through rocks on a river bed and up a narrow path way for about an hour. Kroda is on the way to Jwala and Malola can be reached after a short trek and a a climb of 100 steps from Kroda.

This is a trek which is about 2-4 kms passes through some of the most beautiful landscapes, mountain streams and green vegetation . The final stretch to reach the Jwala Narasimha temple is a neatly constructed flight of stairs. After the climb you cross a path carved out of the face of the hill.  The guide told us that it would be a thrilling sight during the rains as one would be trekking under the waterfall from the Vidyatri mountain. We had to make do with just a trickle and a fine spray on our faces.

The path down was fairly easy and we were back in our cars in 3 hours. There is a lot written about the trekking which can put off many a pilgrim. Most of it is overstated and can be done without a hitch. I’m not in the best of shape and have weak legs.  I was able to cover the 3 temples in Upper Ahobilam and still have enough energy to drive back and cover 3 more temples on the way back. The 5th temple Karanja was on the road side of the way back to Lower Ahobilam.

We covered the other 2 temples (Yogananda and Chatravata) in Lower Ahobilam by driving right up to the temples.

We came back to the room and rested for a couple of hours and had home cooked food at the house of the organizer. She had organized for the jeep to pick us up to take us to the final 2 Narasimha temples deep inside a jungle. The starting point for Pavana is also Ahobila Narasimha temple, but the route is on the opposite side of Jwala Temple. This is about 20km from the town and drive was on a dirt track. It was fun and the 40km to and fro trip took about 2.5 hrs. I had conjured up visions of a dense rain forest with an odd wild animal running around. The reality was far from it. The forest by itself was dry and barren and all the jolting left us _ _ _ _.

We finally reached the temple and were surprised to find a number of people who had made the journey on foot. I realized the depth of their faith and the strength of their resolve. In comparison, my bhakthi was conditional and was practiced only if it was within my comfort zone. This revelation of was a humbling experience.

The last temple (Bhargava )which was just 3 km from the town was covered on the return by jeep. You have to walk a short uneven path and climb a flight of steps to reach this. My FIL and MIL were able to manage the last segment on foot without much hassle.

We went back to the room to freshen up and were right in time to see the last few overs  of India – WestIndes match of the world cup. The win was a perfect end to a great trip.

We visited the Prahalada Narasimha Ahobilam temple in the town later in the evening. It was the last day of the Brahmotsavam and it was crowded.  We had people waiting on top of structures as a vantage point for viewing the grand finale procession later during the night.
Some pics of the devotees and the crowd.

My 2 cents 
  • Make full use of the bamboo pole for trekking and use it effectively so that it takes most of the weight of your legs. This reduces fatigue to a huge extent. We covered the so called arduous journey in 3 hours.
  •  We had carried breakfast and had it after the darshan of the 2nd temple . This slowed us down considerably. If hungry during a trek have a banana or other fruits for energy and drink  lots of water.
The Legend and the Temples:

According to Hindu Mythology Western Ghats is considered to be the celestial thousand hooded serpent Adi Seshan in which Lord Vishnu sleeps in the milk ocean. Tirumala being the head portion, Ahobilam the middle and Sri Sailam being the tail portion.

This is also known as Nava Narasimha khshetras -  as per legend the nine shines of Narasimhas are Nine Navagrahadhipathis and the Navagrahas are said to have attained their power by worshiping these deities.

“Jwala Ahobila Malola Kroda Karanja Bhargava Yogananda Kshatravata Pavana Nava Moorthayaha”


Every year, in the month of Phalguna, Brahmotsavas  are held. Apart from this, every month, on the star day  of the Lord, which is Swathi, Thirumanjan Seva is performed with 108 Kalasas at the Prahalada Narasimha temple.

Jwala Narasimha - Jwala means flame - the Lord is at His most ferocious form.

There are three idols in this shrine - first one depicts him emerging out of the pillar to kill Hiranya.

In the second one the Lord is depicted with eight hands –
·        two hands tearing open the stomach of Hiranya
·        two hands garlanding himself with the intestine
·        two hands holding the legs and head firmly in place on His thigh
·        two hands wielding the conch and discus.

The third idol depicts the fight between the Lord and the demon

Ahobila Narasimha also known as Ugra Narasimha - Ugra means ferocious

The main shrine is a cave and the Lord is depicted with Hiranya on His lap. The idol of Prahalada is in front of the Lord. Adi Sankara and , Thirumangai Alwar have sanctified the Lord with their hymns. There is a shrine for Senju Lakshmi also.

Malola Narasimha - Maa means Maha lakshmi and Lola means Lover. In this form the Lord gives dharshan with His consort Mahalakshmi seated on His left thigh. He is depicted as Santha  (peaceful) Narasimha showering His blessings to the devotees.

It is said that the 'utsavamoorthi' of the Lord appeared to Srimath Adivan Satakopa Jeeyar, the first Jeeyar of Ahobila Mutt and the Utsava Murthi accompanies each of the Jeeyars whenever they are on religious tours

Krodha Narasimha - Kroda means the extruded teeth. The Lord is depicted as the Varaha Narasimhar (boar) holding mother earth in His teeth.

Karanja Narasimha – the main shrine is under the Karanja tree and hence Karanja Narasimhar.
Hanuman did penance to see Lord Rama  and when Lord Narasimha appeared before him, Hanuman requested him to give darshan as Rama. The Lord is seen here with bow and arrow with the celestial serpent as umbrella

Bhargava Narasimha - Bhargava (Parasurama) did penance here to see the Lord in his Narasimha form. Lord Vishnu appeared as Ugra Narasimha and also showed the dasavatharam forms to Parasurama.

Yogananda Narasimha - The Lord is depicted in a yogic posture with legs crossed and the hands in yogic posture. The legend is that He taught the nuances of yoga to Prahalada here.

Chatravata Narasimha - Chatra means umbrella and Vad means banyan tree. The Lord is depicted in  jolly mood enjoying the music of Ahaa and Uuhu two divine singers under the banyan tree with one of his hands is tapping the rhythm on his thigh

Paavana Narasimha – located on the banks of the Pavana river. The Lord gives darshan along with His consort Chenchu Lakshmi. The legend is that the Goddess Mahalakshmi took birth as a tribal Chenchu Lakshmi and married Lord Narasimha after the death of Hiranyakashpu. The local Chenchu tribals celebrate the marriage of Goddess Mahalakshmi as Chenchu Lakshmi and Lord Narasimha.

Other places of importance:
  1. Ugra Sthambham -  Located in the mountains further above the Jwala Narasimha is a cleft of the mountain dividing it into two visible parts. Legend is that this the pillar from which Lord Narasimha emerged.
  2. Prahalada Mettu - Small shrine with an image of Prahalada in a cave on the hill between Ugra Sthambham and Upper Ahobilam.
  3. Rakthakundam – This is on the way to Jwala Narasimha and the Lord after killing Hiranyakasipu is said to have washed his hands in this 'theertham' and hence the name Rakthakundam.
  4. Garudatri - opposite the Jwala Narasimha shrine. Garuda wanted to have darshan of Lord as Narasimha and did severe penance in these hills. The Lord appeared in the form of Narasimha and gave darshan to Garuda. Garudatri resembles the shape of eagle with folded hands and beak in the middle and two wings on either side.